Eli Painted Crow, la veterana who has called for this gathering of drums in D.C., shares her story. The women soldiers raped in Iraq,
covered up, nothing is done. A retired woman colonel speaks out about the 4 deaths in one year's time of women spouses at Fort
Bragg, North Carolina, where a special type of soldier is created for the nastiest work of all. And it's swept under the rug. No one
speaks of it. A veteran speaks of how he changed from an anti war activist to an activist for peace. I remember with Eli, the part I
know: my family, my father, two buses in our enlisted army housing area- poor white folks from Kentucky, Georgia, on one bus. My
bus, Mexicanos, Puerto Riquenos, African Americanos, Native people, from all over. There were no brown faces in the officer's
housing area. Ever. I was raised there. My Mother, brothers, sister and I also have the scars of that soldiering, inside and out. I
believe my father tambien is still wounded by the soldier/man he became, and never completely shook off....
Grandmother drum beats clear and strong, so much so, we go places. Elders dance around the fire, or at our drum. A sister warrior,
Mary, returning from Iraq, dons her shawl and dances as she re-enters among The People again. She dances slow. Asked over my
shoulder, "Do you have a song "that buffalo song." Her young daughter the next day taps me on the same shoulder and whisper in
my ear, will you play the Wanka Tanka song? Later, I close my eyes ."Ate Wanka Tanka Heya Heya Hey!" and she's right there, joined
by younger sister, across from me at the drum, echoing that call. It's a different call, for a different nation, for a different soldier.
These are women warriors.
Debby Guerrero Gunseek sings the sweetest things you've ever heard, and another time, the power and strength knocks you off
your feet, or rather, raises them, que no? One after another, dancing. It's our turn now as she returns the favor and wakes us up this
time, though it's midday, night fall, no matter. Her voice is the sound and the color of dawn. She blesses the water. And many times
over, she blesses the children. For me, that's what I think deer medicine might be. Gentle. Water. Dawn. Bringing the children to
On our final day, we arrive as they are closing early with the 13 Grandmothers. The big grandmother drum stops, but really doesn't
want to. As I walk about beginning our goodbyes, I hear her start up again. I smile. We are not too late. I make my way over finding
my sisters searching the grounds. I step up to the drum. We are just in time. Others have scattered, beginning their own goodbyes,
beginning the work of packing up. But some come back to help abuelita sing for the abuelitas as they return to their journeying. Our
voices a little worn, we sing the same songs as lullabies, soft. Easy. Letting go. One of the grandmothers joins us. I hand her a stick,
she stares at it, silently, not happy. She points to Debby's. She wants the wooden stick. It's gladly hers. And she smiles with the first
strike of the drum and nods her head. Another grandma comes. Our sweet sister notes we are 13 for the second closing of the
drum as the 13 depart por este camino rojo.
Time to go, said all my goodbyes, til next time. I spot our young little Loni at grandmother drum. I say sadly, "We gotta go." Her stick
in perfect time, she simply nods her chin up at me. We got this.
Bless this road that we are walking